India turns the only saffron-producing country with GI tag

India has become the only saffron-producing country to earn a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for its Kashmir saffron. Iran is the largest producer of saffron in the world while India is a close competitor. 

An official spokesman said on Tuesday that the GI tag will result in more prominence for the Kashmir saffron in the export market, thereby boosting its exports. This will in turn help the farmers to get the best remunerative price for economic sustainability, said. 

The GI certification would also cease the prevalent adulteration of saffron and will put an end to the marketing of saffron cultivated in other countries under the garb of being produced in Kashmir which otherwise was affecting the economic interests of the farmers associated with this crop. 

To give a boost to saffron production in Kashmir, J&K Government has launched new initiatives including the introduction of GI Tagging. The GI sign is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. 

Kashmiri Saffron is grown at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800 m above mean sea level, which adds to its uniqueness and differentiates it from other saffron varieties available across the world. 

Saffron is cultivated and harvested in the Karewas (highlands) of Jammu and Kashmir and has been assigned GI tag by the Geographical Indications Registry. The spice is grown in Pulwama, Budgam, Kishtwar and Srinagar regions of Jammu & Kashmir. 

Kashmiri saffron is of superior quality because of the higher concentration of crocin, a carotenoid pigment that gives saffron its color and medicinal value. Its crocin content is 8.72% compared to the Iranian variant’s 6.82%, giving it a darker color and enhanced medicinal value. 

The unique characteristics of Kashmir saffron are its longer and thicker stigmas, natural deep-red color, high aroma, bitter flavor, chemical-free processing, and high quantity of crocin (coloring strength), safranal (flavor) and picrocrocin (bitterness). 

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